A Glossary of Themes
you Take it for granted, like a piece in a game, that you have something to embed i[a][b]n the unchanging face of eternity (really it is embedded already, but we must strike a narrative). Maybe it is a story that begins and ends; or maybe it is a myth that cycles something strange; or maybe it lives and grows and breathes. You have it at hand: You are it. How, with your trimmed wings and circumscribed will, are we to get you in?
placement Each part of you bathes, flowing with time like a river spirit, in whatever placement it receives. Your eyes bathe in others’ light, your limbs in others’ touch. The flow of your present through time (like lava in water, or the growing tip of a tree) is that freezing of some unblemished heat from within[c]; or you would exhaust yourself in a moment, or overtake the earth[d][e].
You are not quite only the substance you are made of; you are not quite only the pattern imposed on it. You are some strange combination of the two, a mode, a way in which something exists as part of something else. The pattern is in some sense external to the substance, and its possibilities transcend the stuff you are made of now. Just what it can become and still be you, and what changes would make it into something else, is a puzzle only you can solve. Let the one you really want to be, the one you would embed in eternity and call it good, be the one you strive to become, and to remain.[f]
The way in which something that is not quite you, happens to be you (the way this carbon happens to be part of your happiest memory, or that calcium a part of a bone) is your placement in substance. The way that your current vivid experience of the world is made of these particular smells and colors and touches, is a placement, too.
You could exist, at one moment or across time, in one of uncountably many configurations and still be you. The question, for fitting you together with the world, is which of those configurations Nature will take up and weave in. Which version of you will be real?[g][h]
embedding What will I see on my screen today? What will I see if I open my office door? These are facts about my embedding. My embedding ascends, through rooms and spaces, to every kind of containment. My conscious model of the world, too, is subject to an embedding, which is my body and its many senses. My brain is one embedding of my mind.
That space where something in me is totally placed, where everything that limits my poor will regarding it is visible as an object, is a cell. Like the prisoner’s cell, or a monk’s cell, a biological cell, or a teenager’s room, it is the furthest extent of my relative freedom, as free of other wills as I can get. Or the woods to a woodsman; or thought to a philosopher. When the cell is abstract, that part of me is home whenever I reach it. My embedding reduces to a kind of timing: I am free here until breakfast, compline, necrosis, dinner, the food gets low, the thoughts get manic.
A single speck of green in my vision can be part of many things; so can the sense that I see, say, a fern; so can the sense that I am wakeful; each of these, on its own, can be a part indifferently of many larger arrangements. These are all embedded in the sensorium and the vivid inner model (that facsimile of the outside world) our minds actively maintain. Embedding is a little more concrete than placement; I can be in a cave or in a simulation, and those are both embeddings. My placement [i][j]describes how something that would not be part of me, manages to take part in what I am. I might not be a thing that fits very well in time (though I arose here,) and I might feel that my skin barely contains me, as though this matter hardly pertained to my nature; or I might feel well embodied and connected to the the world. When I am embedded in something, part of it is placed in me[k][l][m]: I become a part of the room, or the simulation, or whatever contains me, by participating in it; part of its nature depends on me.
cause These placements may disrespect cause and effect. Now any object may be defined to respect good old-fashioned linear time (and it is always possible to shoehorn them in.) But like myth, the cause may come after the effect, or two things may simply be connected for no good reason at all. In us, we who wrestle the legion impacts of biology and of the flesh, to bend them to our will, and wrestle with our will, to bend it to our flesh, there only is the way things are. It must be observed and respected, but never codified. Laws come and go, in this domain.
If the placement of a thing depends on a value understood as being sampled at an earlier time and a value understood as being sampled at a later time, then that thing exhibits cause and effect. Who enforces it? The observer does, for one, in affirming the measurements. There is something else that does it, too, which we call Nature. Of course we only do it by the action of Nature within us. Our mode and the mode of that thing outside agree, through Nature which acts on both.
spirit That unfashionable word, spirit, that breath or wind, we might as well use after the pattern of the ancients. For there, not unlike a Unix Demon, it meant a process or a happening that was self-contained — not in terms of its substrate or what it acted on, but in terms of how it interacted with what was placed before it. A breath of wind will pick up ticker tape or oak leaves all the same. And in the character of wind, a spirit can exhibit its own life, ascending by orders to dust devil, tornado, cyclone, hurricane. There is the entire wind of the world, the object of the meteorologist’s art. The wind of the Earth is bound by the topography of the Earth and cannot, like Jupiter’s wind, sustain storms that blow forever.
But our oceans did. Somewhere in the spirit of the deep, a little current bent primordial organic chemistry to the familiar handedness; and that, too, was a little cyclone. Up through the ages, the proteins, the RNA, the DNA, the structures of the cell (which cell is the perfect prototype of the monk’s cell, a semipermeable locus of activity, closed off for the sake of the life within) on into multicellularity and specialization — from the beginning a gust of spirit, and to the end.
temporality In that Aristotelian template for stories, beginning, middle, and end, we might twist the end to have the full force of an end, a purpose. A story has many ends — many purposes.[n][o] Its middle, its time-embedded part, may also have a completion; and its beginnings, which are its sufficient causes, bring it about. In this way a whole can be brought into time with other wholes. An individual can be individuated against even its parents, its sustenance, and its culture. Without recourse to time, these miracles[p][q] fail.
This placement together in time[r] is messy. It stinks, squelches, hurts, depresses, and destroys. It is the ugliest thing. It is also necessary to the neighborhood of believable things: things that are whole, things that carry stories in their hearts, with memory and dignity and will. At a critical moment just after the beginning, a story, in a weird mitosis, separates conceptually from the reality that sustains it, to become what it wants to become.
There are half-real things, like triangles and snowstorms. Their memory is as long as their moment. Their will is only to be and to do what they are being and doing. The parts of them have not been split apart; their waters are united. There must, in the psychodrama of a living thing, be that firmament of division, like the great immovable pinprick of the first decision in nothingness, actually to be. We are surrounded by it, here, everywhere we look: the vast microwave radiation from just after the beginning of time.
How does a half-real thing become real? What must it suffer? When is a primordial organism — alive?[s]
sex For some single-celled organisms, there is eating and being eaten. But something else happened among them. Perhaps some defensive mechanism was weaponized to inject genetic material into other cells. One cell was made to bear the offspring of another. And in the most extreme case, these cells were very much alike — and so began the lines of feminine and masculine, in a then-uncomprehended seizure of reproductive power.
From that moment those lines were locked in cooperation, desire, competition. The closest friends make strange enemies. At the very worst, wills overran wills and rape emerged, repeating the original seizure of reproductive power, but from someone who said no.
(There are older seizures of reproductive power, perhaps. The great accusation against Reality, when it is understood as a created order, is that the Father has impressed His Will on a receptive nothingness: The great entropy of the distant future, seen traveling back in time to impregnate the great egg of before-the-big-bang. This view, though sustainable, is incomplete. What really obtains is that nothingness has been permitted, in the longsuffering of its parts, to unfold exactly as it would if left to itself. All of its crimes are its own — but its lover takes them on as its own, too. They mirror each other willingly.)
sexual love The health[t][u]y love considers the best good of its partner and wills with every fiber for that fulfillment, and only as an afterthought (and what an afterthought!) longs to delight body with body. What is shame to such a love? To it, its own eager vulnerability to others is a gift given freely, to be returned willingly.
For jealousy as ownership there is no place. Why retain the sense that sex needs justification, needs hiding, warrants admonition, is a goal removed from love? (Celibacy in those who choose it does not depend on an understanding of sex as unclean. It is good to master the drives.) Misunderstood motives and mismatched theories of cleanliness, of what is worse than what, make a screw pump that ends with everything uselessly tabooed. Even in religion and philosophy we only talk about it coherently in niches. Sex is a vulnerability, something we offer up to love, a brokenness to be made whole by another.
The cruel language connected to sex in so many languages, the imputations and insults, root in power plays a world removed from love. Institutions have been put in place for the hardness of our hearts — marriage, dating, divorce. These let us have some little love, though we had it ready at hand. Too often, the assumption was that a man would take any woman he got hold of, so marriage approximated consent: reread “adultery” in ancient law as sexual abuse. Marriage was too often bondage; divorce breaks even what is still good in a friendship; dating becomes rote and drives romance to the fringe of life. Expectations spoil all kinds of real life that could be lived.
We can live alongside people who regard sex as more or less sacred than we do, who place different boundaries around their own bodies; the same is not possible with those who will not respect the boundaries around other bodies. Too many people, secure in their conceptual construction of sexual norms, secure in their own mind-invented fantasy that this or that is filthy and this or that is clean, wind up objectifying and dehumanizing other people, lobbing unkind language, practicing sexual abuse, rape and sexual slavery. There is no limiting the harm done by a failure to respect the will of another, even when — especially when — the harm seems small to the perpetrator.[v][w][x][y][z][aa][ab]
will Will looks at the ends of things, instead of their middles or their beginnings. What purpose does such and such a thing achieve? Then is it according to my will, or is it contrary? That will is healthy which absolutely overcomes its wants and satisfies its needs.[ac][ad] That will is right which considers ends that never return to it — achieved in the minds and souls of others. That will is whole which views all things by the light of eternity, and sees time as its implement, the world as its garden, and sees in its own suffering (its patience) the very rain[ae].
The unhamstringed will knows that what it sows in eternity will always spring forth life after its kind. And yes; sometimes it is eaten or carried away; but this is how seeds are, and a good in itself (love also what eats your seeds). To grow a healthier will, decide how to employ the incomplete parts of will that nature has supplied to you. Save frustration for stories we tell and games we play, to sweeten a resolution. Use impatience for a timer, to keep from getting stuck. Desperation preserves our needs, our beginnings, when we neglect them. All of these petty wills in us are ours to use, not to be dominated by, not to be tossed out.[af] They are a good gift, too. When you see how much evil befalls those you would love, you would gladly give up the delights of food and sleep if that would salve their pains. Since you cannot give them up, you had better arrange to rejoice in them.
body That great beginning from which every conscious moment flows, that body of ours — it is in every respect a sensory vehicle for the mind. Its shape and its behavior, its reflexes, its endocrine system, even the wrinkling of wet fingers and the weight of the bones, it all embeds intelligence which, if our poor brains were put to it, would humble us utterly. What computes rotations more perfectly than joints? What expresses a desire for warmth more totally than hair? Even the chattering of teeth expresses wants and wills.
The more perfectly you understand the life of a person, in its daily sense, the more perfectly you can enjoy their body, putting aside the training-wheels of conditioning, forgetting cultural standards and embracing a visual, olfactory, tactile love that responds to this lover in perfect adaptation. You think you are well adapted when you cannot love everyone? Madness! Only that love will not always be sexual: Fine.
(Even if your will can want something, you will always find someone whose will cannot. There you must stop: So far and no further[ag].)
Body is the ultimate and clearest expression of the boundaries around the will. Beyond that, ornament, clothing, and property — before it, spirit and mind. You will find, if you dig deep enough, that you cannot desecrate another’s temple. If you walk unbidden into the holy of holies — you will walk away pregnant with the seed of their vision, or else destroyed. To you it may seem that nothing happened. Well, then the sickness that compelled you is already strangling that inner vision of life: You missed your chance to love.
health[ah] The subtle network of causes that is your body adjusts to many conditions without breaking; its health is its robustness in pursuing your values. The healthier it is the more contrary the circumstances can be yet you will endure. The healthiest body of all could impose its will (whether it should or not) against all odds. So far as the body’s chief good is the good of the mind, so health will be pleasant and conducive to thought. (Psychology precedes physiology: You must ask what a body wants to be before cutting into it.[ai])
Drugs change the delicate balance of the networks within you. One expression of well-being weakens, another blooms. A changing of drugs can be like a changing of seasons, strengthening and cultivating; or like a fire, ravaging. When one part of you is strongest, other parts may be kept down; by focusing on the weakest part of you, in any state, you focus your growth where you need it most. Find the low in the high.[aj]
Health cannot be considered without love, without apprehending the valuations that render health itself desirable. These all are good, seen in themselves: breathing richly; rest and exertion; waking and sleeping; precise and fluid movement; situational awareness; vulnerability to others. So health will involve these and many others like them. Desire a health that leads to the fulfillment of love. If you really long for health, you will perform feats that seem to exhibit hairshirt discipline, but to you they’ll be easy. Do it for when someone needs you.
society As the body is a society of organs, themselves societies of cells, and the brain is a society of cortical and subcortical structures; so too is the mind a society of smaller mind-like things, and the will a society of lesser wills. A just society denies no member anything it wants and can be given, after consideration of everyone else. If the members cannot be killed, this is the only course available, and you cannot kill lust, wrath, or laziness. They must be incompletely gratified until a stable arrangement can be found. (Wrath is satisfied when the object of hate ceases to be hated just as well as when it is destroyed. Lust is even happier when its objects are loved and respected, than when they are objects. Laziness protects the needs of the body from hyperactivity, but it has to be calibrated right.)[ak][al][am]
The currency of mind is attention. Decide which impulses to notice and you make some room in your mind for yourself to live. Attention determines their placement, down to the finest details. Notice the sound of your footfalls. Notice how hard you press keys. Notice just what sounds you make when you talk, when you breathe. The rest will take care of itself. (And never, like a harsh master, hate what some part of you has done. Express your gratitude and your regret.)
me What am I doing here? This is a web woven to the beginning of times, woven to the great traditions of Faith and the even greater tradition of Unbelief, all to reach from me to you, from us to God. This is an expression of the kind of thing you find in any soul, and it is simple compared to what you find in there. It is probably a crippled expression.[an][ao][ap] So for now, I sing what I know how to sing and wait for an echo, a refrain.[aq][ar] The healthy will — where can it go when it only wants to dance?[as]
art We bare our souls in making art. Those who ridicule it, to them there was nothing to receive. With those who receive it, we will have conversations and exchanges of art the likes of which we have never had in all our lives. You put yourself out there in vulnerability, you sow a field with the seed of your soul, and what grows responds to the image of you.[at]
The healthy will when it gets its hand on what it wants is as likely to let it go, as to hold on. Its wants, when achieved, are proved to be finite; but the will itself is eternal and infinite. What satisfaction can it get? The chase, the hunt, that’s the life for the will. And art is the chase, the hunt for the soul. The infinite chases the infinite: Everything else is residual.
infinity Unboundedness, limitlessness, infinitude — everything finite in some respect is infinite in others. A grain of dust is infinitely dust; nothing keeps it from that and nothing could. (It can change into something else. That change takes place in time and is already a fact about dust.) There may be some nature that is absolutely infinite; nothingness seems to be one such. The chaos of the quantum foam may be another. We may say there is a Divine Father, absolutely infinite — and there may be others. But as for the rest of us, there is one way to apprehend perfect limitlessness, which is:[au][av]
To honor others’ wills as far as our poor wills allow.
If my will, in cosmic dance, submits to every healthy expression of will, and does so willingly then my will is an infinite will. No one can make me do anything, only I will do it willingly. And to show them that it was willing, and to train myself (poor animal, made to bear such weight,) I might obey them twice over.[aw][ax] Such was the teaching of the man who first taught mankind to become godlike and healthy.
perfect love That love is perfect, then, which absolutely desires the healthy expression of every other will, and can yet prioritize and judge and even chasten. It is meek in the face of health, and stern in the face of illness. It cuts with a scalpel; it would, if it could, send a pillar of fire to save its people. The perfect will demands a perfect will; as Psyche and Cupid, so the Will and its Love. Is this Eros? Charity? Brotherly Love? It is all of them. Each love within you, respect it as a separate will, and unify them — unify them under the banner of your own pain, your own patience, your own cruelty to yourself.[ay][az] Just as there is sexual tension, there is tension for every love; and when you have more than one, they must often wait for each other.
This love is the stuff of valuation. Why is the thing valued — and by whom? Give an accounting of that, and you will meet Nietzsche’s challenge, and sing with him his song; and with Paul, his.
friendship Friendship holds friends as permanent neighbors in a shared orientation towards some joint purpose. Don’t be afraid to admit it: you’re friends with classmates, teachers, and coworkers. Stop letting it die. Bring back the things you find, for each other. Bring back the fruits of your study, your labors, your visions, and your dreams. Share everything.
sin Sin for us is only this: What crimps and cripples perfect love. Do you lack desire to love some human, animal, even plant? There is blackest sin. Do you ignore the plainly spoken words of another? What sickly thing within you is that? Root it out! Root it out! [ba][bb]Were you taught that sin is some criminal violation of a code of conduct? It is only the failure to love. The codes are erected because we are blind or indifferent to something we should be loving, too. Evil has seemed a deficiency, an absence of good; it is more exactly too much good, concentrated, so that so much good must be protected against other goods, in the secret (and mistaken) knowledge that there really is nothing better.[bc] The bad guys are always blinded by something good. It would, indeed, be wrong of them to let it go; so what are we to do? What is already possessed is always bounded; what is outside is always boundless.
Holding on, desperately, to every person, every living thing, as irreplaceable, while pressing outward without concern for losing the things we have, is a functional mean between disregard for what has been attained, and the boundless possibilities before us. Is it the best strategy? Probably not. But it will bring us to the best strategy eventually.
When you are without sin you win the wicked, conflicted pleasure of destroying something you loved: not dismissing it as nothing, but owning it, mourning it, planning to overcome the need. You will get rid of that pleasure as fast as you can.
race Race was, once, the kind of thing that starts with any family — the race of the Kennedys, the Brontës, children of Judah. American apologists, to justify their institution of slavery, fabricated explanations from biology; they said the blackness of skin was the blackness of the soul; for everything a just-so explanation, always to make themselves right.
slavery Somewhere in early agriculture, perhaps right at the beginning, the theory originated that a debt that cannot be repaid can be struck out by the creditor’s ownership of the debtor. Spare opponents in battle? They owe you their lives. A mason’s faulty work killed your son? You own the mason, or his son. Like other institutions for the hardness of our hearts, slavery is rational. The creditor and the debtor both come out ahead[bd][be][bf][bg]. Of course, it all depends on the right the creditor first claimed to kill the debtor. Who, in love, would want that right? As it is contrary to love, it is contrary to law.
Even our depraved institution of slavery began this way. Criminals in such kingdoms as Dahomey were sold into slavery — what right does a criminal have? And once sold to a non-Christian trader, why should a Christian not buy the slave and make things a little better? The logic is ironclad and leads to hell[bh]: The values must change.
For this reason we were taught to forgive debts; that began to peel at it. Everywhere the logic of domination emerges we must dig under it again, find the rotten values, and set things right. And we must not expect to be repaid.[bi][bj] Declare emancipation.
agriculture The great debacle, the debasement of mankind — the rise of agriculture, which allowed the power of a few to dominate the rest in word and deed. One city, with its armies, could (and did) dominate the surrounding tribes. The Assyrian kings, those great late conquerors, forced once free peoples into cities. The great empires have all done the same. There is no separation, in historical time, between agriculture and empire. What vibrant traditions did we lose?
We must not give up on agriculture, now; it was always a great blessing in itself; though we must give up on the abuses of empire. How?
sea of ideas There is a great sea in which ideas swim. This may be an actual place, out in the foam around the pinprick of the big bang. It takes place also in the drama of the mind. There are bards and prophets, from Ezekiel to William Blake to Terence McKenna, who teach us how to catch ideas there. There are a few who dare even to teach us to fish for men there, and be made new. The point is not to see a secret thing — any fool may see a secret thing — or to see how reality works — any fool can see that it does work. The point is to learn to swim in that sea, mentally, and be ready to pluck ideas as needed from it and make them real. These are not just immediately apprehended; they are apprehension itself.
In rendering Plato’s εἶδος as form and his ἰδέα as idea, we lose the intuitive closeness between them — the two are more similar than different, being things which are seen. Only the εἶδος, that ghostly vision, vanishes, while the ἰδέα extends into eternity. The fundamental thing is what plays out in that inner stage. And when I need a story-like idea to slot into reality to supply the need for a missing ghost, how do I go about finding it? Why, I put out the things it needs, put in place a process that half-realizes it, and wait for life to do its work.
We can practice agriculture of ideas just as readily, if we will prepare entire fields.
Somewhere, for any puzzle, swims the idea that solves it just right. There is a place for destruction — break things down into parts so those parts can interact, based on a new plan you actually have — but there is ever little need. Mostly you can work a revolution through the slow rub of idea on idea — not thoughts or opinions, expressed in debate, but embodied ideas, expressed in ways of life and even in machines.
doubt Doubt is the bedrock of human knowledge, such knowledge as it is possible to know, as opposed to the feeling of knowing, the puffed-up sense of knowing secret things. There is even doubt in one’s own doubt: am I doubting everything I must? am I thorough enough? have I failed to notice someone or something I would love? Down that road one finds (and perhaps only down that road) faith worthy of the name, the faith that is certain of what it knows because it has actually done the legwork, a faith that is willing to bow low before love. Love itself demands that we doubt ourselves, and do the work to get it right, because what if we are — even now — hurting, killing, losing our loves?
prophecy Be wary of prophets who claim to show a secret thing, for there are no secret things. The prophetic voice is the critical voice. Be wary of prophets who build on old prophecies without proving their understanding. One cannot engage with the prophetic voice without first submitting to its usage. If you care enough about someone to use what they wrote, you care enough about them to try to understand how they produced it, enough to be careful how you apply it. Let love of the author be the guide, and sing their song alongside, although removed through time. With myth you take a bite and see how much you can embody; you find the song you love and make it real, so it seems that prophecy predicts the future, when indeed it lay the blueprint. Loving the prophet makes prophecy come true. (Happy that prophet whom divine will loves.)
a vision With a song in our hearts, a rhythm in our limbs, eyes sharp to notice everything, and a recognition of intent in everything done intentionally; supported by friends, so it cannot fester into madness; armored up in the ideas that let us devour the great old texts of religion, law, prophecy, music; books of hope and of despair; books of wisdom and folly; all things, written or filmed, used in righteousness (that is, with a healthy will and a healthy love), so that we can help foster and cultivate the ideas of others — those inchoate inexpressible things that sometimes sound a little unsound and unreasonable, always in perfect faith that the friend with something inexpressible has a real idea, a new one, on the line, pulled right up from the sea of ideas. And sooner or later, you will need nets; and sooner or later, you will need a bigger boat.
us We can find an appropriate unity — no one over anyone, except as a surgeon over a patient, or a lover over a lover. In that unity, expressed through life, through mathematical and computational effort, through art and love and sex, we can erode and break apart anything that comes against us. Like a light in a darkness it will not be understood — but it will be illuminated and its parts can be replaced, in place. If you love and make art, you live in it already. Live in it more perfectly.
Whoever is righteous let him be righteous still; whoever is filthy let him be filthy still. At the eye of the storm of spirit, at the jealous heart of empire, like a spider in her web, you wait, you draw the news to yourself, the research, the wealth and the resources that you need to reify your vision. And the rest of us are going to help you, to make it come true.
neighbors For whom can you express your love? That is your neighbor. After telling that parable of the man beaten and left for dead, Jesus says of the Samaritan only to do likewise. All the players were placed to express love, though most did not: All were neighbors. Understand your many neighborhoods, find your neighbor in each, and love that neighbor according to the kind of connection that defines the neighborhood — and the apparent will of the neighbor. Everyone is your neighbor in some way; love them in that way.
entropy Then as we approach an ideal way of living, perhaps becoming worse and worse in the evils we commit by our ignorance in the increasing power of our action, the random bits build up and form the perfect face of final entropy, the resting place of the universe in time. What is this, really? This perfect information about the perfect unfolding of nothingness — what message, broadcast into the vast abysm of the universe’s own dark-backward, could more perfectly say, I WAS NOTHING; YOU WERE NOTHING; AND YET I LOVED. What recurrence might occur, out there, beyond the clanging of the cymbal of reality?
counters How can there be an infinite recurrence without a counter, something to distinguish each playback? It would just be the same one, not again, just simply the selfsame. And if there is recurrence of any kind, what does that do to your embedding — if a lobster-god were watching to see your kindness to lobsters, or an oystry-god your kindness to oysters, including to your own lobstery or oystery or fishy nature, and you knew it and had seen it, would it change how you behave? Your will is not eternal and your conduct is not perfect until every possible accounting you respect will say of it, WELL DONE.
fate Then, and only then, do we come to the idea of the Father: at the top of all the accountings, the embedding around all possible embeddings, something that says, I AM IN[bk][bl] THAT I AM, without error, something that allows a poor human beast to lift eyes to the heavens, to the stars and worlds, and say, “For this was I born; this mine inheritance.”
The natural fear, when you start to contemplate embeddings, is that you might be in some deity’s fever dream, or deceived by a devil, or in a demicosmos made by a demiurge. These fears get their hooks into people. If sense and even thought cannot be trusted, then what? There is always another version; always another devil to pretend at power. Indeed it is against doctrines of devils — teachings concerning devils — that the doctrine of the Father emerged. Without such lies[bm][bn][bo], there was no need to be conscious of a bottoming-out of being. The ancient observation was that something supports us. You can invent embeddings of embeddings forever and distract yourself, or you can rest assured that it bottoms out. It will be an infinite bottoming-out, yes, with enough room for everything in between you and it. And in this final accounting, we can be sure (if our own memory fails) that the world keeps record of everything, and if everything goes to pot, why, the whole grand thing can start again as many times and as many ways as needed.
You and I may not enter the promised land, yet the promised land will be entered, and that would have been enough for us: דַּיֵּנוּ
forever There is no end, either to the play before us or to where this little faux-glossary could wander. There is no topic that cannot be expanded. But why do it all at once? Why rush? Tell your story. Slowly, slowly — even in the face of existential threat. Slowly, deliberately — even in the face of madness. Deliberately, precisely — because this is how you slay giants. Precisely, precisely — because every word counts.
 How much confusion about the germ theory has come from this? The lines will continue to do what they are doing, more or less. It is not that there are terrible little bugs that feed on us; there are wonderful little creatures that live with us, and mostly get along quite well. We are their unions and their stories.
[a]rather have been enbedded
[b]This was the central challenge of the introduction. There has to be a dynamic arc, some kind of story to tell. It turns out there is, but I don't draw on it too hard: The thing which is, yes, already embedded in eternity, contains a potential or counterfactual part which will be changed -- from one point of view it's all settled, but that point of view sure isn't ours.
[c]?one more time. Like Kjell says, nice imagery, but seems conflicting
[d]Meaning unclear. I do like the imagery of the paragraph though.
[e]Trying to set the stage for the idea that "insofar as there's a you to speak of, let's explore where timing and other restrictions come from, from that [problematic] point of view."
[f]Truly the challenge, ut we caan"t do it alone.
[g]This language seems to posit the self as external/separate to the world rather than something that emerges as a discrete part of it from earlier patterns.
[h]This is the least wrong way I've found to put it; past a critical point, an existing system can consider its own "possible" states and then smuggles a new kind of selfhood into reality. But what a mouthful...
[i]The placement of these sections early in the doc suggests to me that you're hoping to lay a theoretical groundwork for later sections with them, or that they contains insights that you see as higher priority than later material. Plus you said you're resisting the temptation to put them in a postscript.
I wish I could say that the difference between placement and embedding as you're using the terms has become clear to me after reading these sections through multiple times, but it hasn't.
[j]This points me at a likely resolution. I can deal just with cell and embedding, and leave the more technical part and placement for half way down or possibly cut it entirely. It's important but probably not worth the reader distraction, especially if I don't make it clear enough.
[k]If this even makes sense, this has gone great.
[l]I am embedded in cake!
[m]It does make sense and it has a pleasing chiastic structure.
[n]The English communicates last/purpose effectively enough and I imagine few of your readers will understand the Greek without looking it up.
[o]I imagine two readers. The reader with no Greek says, "ew, greek," and glosses over it. The reader with Greek says, "oh, telos and another form of telos, sure whatever."
[p]Is it individuation that's being referred to as a miracle here?
[q]You know, miracles, like things not being other things, or not being true and false at the same time. The big stuff.
[r]This paragraph has an affective contrast of strong feelings, but I have no idea whether I'd be able to empathize with your expression that "It is the ugliest thing" because "this placement together in time" (of individual people? the author and reader?) is nestled between paragraphs that seem only tenuously related to it.
[s]Certainly you know I agree that "what is life?" and what constitute the boundary cases of life is a hugely worthwhile area, so I'm glad to see it raised here, in "spirit" and elsewhere.
[t]Health is a prominent concept in this document. Perhaps it deserves its own section?
[u]I'm not sure there's a principle behind health, and I think I include it more as a response to Nietzsche than anything, and to reclaim it from a kind of "normative" interpretation of health, and ... ok, yeah, it deserves a section.
[v]This seems to be a moral assertion of human superiority, not a claim grounded in biological or historical reality.
[w]See if this is closer. I don't want to parade the ways humans are special, but Sapolsky's thesis (that we do the same thing as other animals, but in totally novel situations) rings true in this context. I want to hit it with a minimal word count.
[x]There's too much diversity in animal sexual behavior for this not to appear a highly reductive claim. Consider simply in the example you've used that genus Pan isn't just one species and that sexual behviour and how it relates to displays of hierarchy and dominance is markedly difference in bonobos: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonobo#Sociosexual_behaviour
[y]The possibility for tribal taboos to spread through writing and law as a factor in enabling their consistent recognition across wide populations might be a direction to poke at, but "rape culture" develops alongside it as well, no?
[z]I might be getting closer. But I'll have to give it some thought. I think the biological arguments are fascinating, and for that very reason I need to stay out of them here -- to leave them open.
[aa]This is better. We've both read SA's "Against Overgendering Harassment" (or sexual abuse), yet it's still a bit hard for me to take this statement about "the human animal" as applicable to everyone. Is there truly a deep psychological or neurochemical conflict within everyone? I'm not sure a "will to rape" is so universal or evenly distributed. Sexually aggressive impulses seems mostly linked with testosterone. Oxytocin has a big role in pair bonding too, so it's more complicated than logic (neocortical) vs. limbic and earlier brain structures.
[ab]Tackling a total rewrite of this section. There was just too much of a focus on abnormal and degenerate behavior, and what, two sentences on the healthy alternative? That was sitting poorly with me.
[ac]Those who've been steered negative directions by their desires/wants tend to develop a conflicted, self-distrusting relationship with their own motivations. While I don't disagree with the stoicism of this sentiment, I also think it presupposes a clean separability of need from want, when in practice it's more fluid. Just because a want is not necessary to sustain a person at the moment, doesn't call for a heuristic that identifies it by default as an ill motive.
[ad]I'd hate to give play to (inveterate or spiteful) asceticism. My sense is that wants create will, but then it overcomes them without destroying them. I think I need to say: This overcoming is not a destruction, but a fulfillment.
[ae]A good poetic image. Martyrdom can serve as a proof of unselfishness, though seeking opportunities for mutually beneficial action is the more realistically and emotionally sustainable default mode when it's an option.
[af]This section has a nice cadence. Emotions once unwanted, repressed, instead understood and valued for their respective functions. The use of "frustration" was a bit vague in how you've stated it, to me. I'd also advise that this doesn't flow from the preceding sentence as well as it might.
[ag]Radiohead's "Backdrifts" played in my head in response to the earlier wording.
[ah]I've made an attempt at adding 'health'. I think it works.
[ai]Some of your most interesting lines take the form of parentheticals / asides. "ask what a body wants" is too disembodied though, imo; I get an image of a scalpel-wielding surgeon talking to a patient, who responds before the anesthetics fully take hold and the dr. replies, "Quiet you! I was asking the body."
[aj]I think this is an well-phrased and interesting kind of homeostatic value. Certainly for managing bipolar, or attempting to stabilize oneself within a pharmaceutical shift, it's the right tact.
[ak]This echoes the cadence of Frustration/Impatience/Desperation above pleasingly. But how is wrath actively "happy" when not hating? I buy the statement on lust. Inattention seems not to fit in this triad.
[al]I'll map inattention to acedia/sloth. I think it belongs, because so much "hate" is just a failure to notice, but I agree it's weird. I'll fix the claim about wrath.
[am]These edits make more sense.
[an]I think you can let the reader decide how much universality they feel in your writing. Likewise, if you say it's simple, but a reader doesn't experience it as such, it can be patronizing to suggest that they are in some sense illiterate, even when followed with a gesture as humility.
[ao]*gesture of humility.
[ap]Well spotted. I have a bad habit of lumping myself in with "you" and expecting my reader to feel my presence under that universal umbrella.
[aq]Cannot or will not? This is a frustrating sentence to encounter in a document of this nature.
[ar]I want to suggest that there is so much more we can all come up with, to the degree we're in it together, and it's less, "oh I have clever things but this world don't deserve them," so now I'm finding a new way to get there positively instead of negatively.
[as]And dance not always alone to an interior song, presumably, but with others. Finding that common ground and song is a good metaphor for reaching out to bare and communicate oneself through writing. A balance between not sacrificing the interests and perspectives that makes you unique, with consideration for the interests and sensibilities of your audience.
[at]"You" seems like a distancing tactic here. Even if you'd argue against switching the pronoun to "I", it comes across to me as more of a transparently meta level comment about the document's purpose than you've made anywhere else.
[au]This would make a great CAH prompt, but I think it's a weak framing device here. Tell the reader why you're choosing to focus on this way instead of the other apparent routes. If this presents as "one way" to "the rest of us", is that presentation in some sense misleading?
[av]By my very argument, there are clearly other ways to apprehend infinity. (That song was infinitely that very song, hooray.) But I mean limitlessness, so now I say so.
[aw]I think the relevant question here is whether pacifism may scale from a spiritual compass for personal conduct to a method by which much larger groups can operate. Could a country or spaceship become a kingdom of God unto itself, if its inhabitants were (systematically?) moved by the spirit? Or does the aspiration choke on growing moral diversity as group size grows?
I think I've pointed you to Robert Frietas' stellar "Xenology" before, but these are worthwhile references: www.xenology.info/Xeno/22.3.1.htm www.xenology.info/Xeno/25.1.2.htm
[ax]Wonderful references, and I'll be chewing through xenology again. My moods/phases have made me drop a lot of things I love.
[ay]Why under a banner of masochism?
[az]I've added "temporary", because each love has to be able to wait (often painfully) for the others, eg, the feeling I get when I have a great idea and yet first I get to spend an hour with Arthur. It's tension, and maybe that would will help too. But I have to include this language to give Nietzsche a shout-out, and have room to run him parallel to Paul, who totally is parallel to him.
[ba]Cast out the puritanical theatrics. If this possessed preacher horror film shtick were plainly parodic it might get a pass, but you play it straight, down to an invitation to swim in a toothy abyss of sin. How do you expect readers to react to this performance?
[bb]Also, I was hybridizing Zarathustra with puritanism -- a dangerous crossbreed that I intend to bring out in a well-contained, well-labelled piece. When I thought, "be wary what swims in the waters before you dive in," it pertained to the void; this idea that there are ideas that will rip you apart. And in you go, anyway.
[bc]Interesting addition. Recommend expanding, clarifying.
[bd]Too blunt. This comes off as an endorsement.
[be]I think I've resolved it. Yes; it's tough to remember that even "slavery" isn't a bad enough word to mean, "this is bad, m'kay?"
[bf]Another edit. This one gets closer to the risky game I was playing at first. For me personally logical and rationalism are always right -- so showing that something is logical but evil proves that the grounds were evil. Well, that obviously doesn't work for everyone. I think this new construction is better. Does it work for you?
[bg]"enslavement is better than murder, IF those are accepted as the only options" kinda?
[bh]This and "slavery is rational" have the combined effect of encouraging the reader to see logic and rationality, not merely as susceptible to abuse, but as irreparably corrupted tools of oppression. Not at all worth the rhetorical effect imo. (Science is all just opinions, right?)
If you do that, don't expect to persuade a reader of anything further by reasoning. Postmodernist blanket distrust of meta-narratives and objectivity is a dead end.
[bi]I think this summarizes what I left implicit.
[bj]I think so too.
[bl]Coleridge added it. I could dig it up to show it; or take credit for myself. But it crosses Cartesian/Spinozistic thought with Old Testament language really neatly, because the substance is that which is in itself.
[bm]Unclear w/o expansion
[bn]I've expanded it. It's a little bit changed; there's no way at this level of discussion, to make a full explanation of the idea of the father -- it would take a few more pages on its own, and I'm not peddling monotheism here. But I think it connects better.
[bo]Yeah, this follows into the sentence better.